In a Town of 2,000, Three Consecutive Priests Abused Children for 30 Years

Friendly Atheist

APRIL 30, 2018


When the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, New York recently released a list of priests credibly accused of child sex abuse, parishioners in Angola, 20 miles to the south, were in disbelief. Because on that list were four priests who had served their town of just over 2,000 people.

What … set Most Precious Blood [the parish church] apart from other parishes was the span in which one accused priest after another worked in the parish for nearly 30 consecutive years.

The Rev. Fred G. Fingerle was assigned as an associate pastor there from 1967 to 1977, except for one year at another parish in 1970. Fingerle was succeeded by the Rev. John P. Hajduk from 1977 to 1982. And Hajduk was followed by Monsignor J. Grant Higgins, who served as pastor from 1983 until 1997.

I wonder if they traded tips about their victims as they passed the baton.

The fourth accused priest was the Rev. James H. Cotter, assigned to Most Precious Blood from 1955 to 1958.

A true pioneer, that one.

“The sticker shock was the number, not that it had happened,” said longtime member Karen A. Erickson. “The sticker shock of so many in your community was what had people talking.”

Her fellow believers in certain other towns in upper New York state surely feel the same way.

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